7 proven treatments for arthritis pain

POSTED: 4:06 PM Mar 26 2013   UPDATED: 4:23 PM Aug 22 2013
Wrist pain

By Barbara Floria, Pure Matters

Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 rheumatic diseases. More than 46 million Americans reported having diagnosed arthritis or chronic joint symptoms in a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Arthritis can affect the joints, muscles, connective tissues, skin and organs. The most obvious warning signs are pain, swelling, stiffness or problems moving one or more joints.

Although there's no cure for arthritis, the symptoms can be treated effectively in many cases. Here are some proven treatments:

The right kind of exercise

Daily exercise is an important part of arthritis treatment. It helps build and preserve muscle strength, protects joints from further stress, and keeps them flexible. An effective exercise program consists of these three types of exercises:

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the activities within each category that are right for you.

Losing weight

Excess weight can put stress on weight-bearing joints and increase wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions joints. Research has found a connection between obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee and hips. And because overweight people often are less active, they're susceptible to joint stiffening.

If you're 10 pounds or more overweight, try to slim down by exercising, reducing your fat consumption, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Medication

The goals of treatments are to control pain, improve function, and slow the progress of the disease. Many drugs are used to treat arthritis. These are the most common:

Stress reduction

Research has shown that people with arthritis benefit from educational programs that teach them how to stay active and practice pain and stress management. They get up to 80 percent more relief from pain and joint tenderness than they can get from using medication alone.

Heat and cold

Applying heat or cold can temporarily reduce arthritis pain. This treatment is especially helpful before and after exercise. Most people with arthritis respond more positively to cold packs than to heat when active inflammation produces severe pain and joint swelling.

Physical and occupational therapy

Physical therapists teach prescribed muscle-strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. They also teach ways to control pain without medication. Occupational therapists teach how to use self-help devices and reduce strain on joints.

Surgery

People with severe arthritis may need joint replacement or joint resurfacing procedures performed by an orthopedic surgeon.

Source: Pure Matters